Saturday, May 30, 2009


The name of Queen Victoria is commemorated all over the world, but there would not be a single place where her memory is honoured with the same respect and affection that Norfolk Islanders feel towards this grand monarch.

Back in the 1850's, when Pitcairn Island was becoming overcrowded, Victoria offered Norfolk Island to the descendants of the Bounty Mutineers and their Tahitian wives as their new home. Although moving was difficult for the Pitcairn Islanders, they made the best of it, and were forever more grateful for the gift of the Norfolk Island for their home.

For the Queen's Golden Jubilee, the elders of the island established a Queen Victoria Scholarship to mark the occasion, and it continues to this day.

When the Queen died, the Norfolk Islanders wrote to England, seeking assistance with the provision of a bronze statue to be placed on the island in the Queen's memory. This never came to pass.

But Victoria has not been forgotten. Last Sunday, on May 24th - Queen Victoria's birthday-Marie Bailey (who is Bernie's cousin) invited the community to the opening of "Queen Victoria Gardens, which she has established so that this community can finally honour the Queen who made such a generous gesture to the Pitcairners over 150 years ago.

First we gathered under Marie's magnificent Poinciana tree for drinks and some very British cucumber sandwiches!

Then we made our way to the new gazebo, admiring the beautiful plantings on the way. Marie has obtained a number of exotic species representing different areas of the Empire, as well as old English plants and native Norfolk species.

The official opening was carried out with a speech by Penelope, who remembered the important celebrations of Empire Day in her childhood.

William spent the rest of the afternoon re-cutting the ribbon!

After the cutting of the ribbon and a speech by Marie, we all admired the new gazebo. The central table carries a number of items, such as photos, letters and newspaper articles, which relate to Norfolk Island's relationship with the Queen.

Around the upper part of the Gazebo, the names of the main Pitcairn families are listed, one on each of the eight sides. Around the base of the central rable, Kentia palm fronds have been stencilled. Although this palm is native to Lord Howe Island, it grows prolifically on Norfolk Island, and its seeds and seedlings are our main export! What is not generally known, however, is that this palm was Victoria's favourite plant. She had fronds close to her at her deathbed, and asked that they be placed at the four corners of her coffin when she lay in state.

It was a great photo opportunity

For older Norfolkers like Marie, Bernie and Greg, the occasion was memorable and historic

What Marie has given to this island is an extremely generous gesture, and there are many older Norfolkers who are delighted that we now have a very prominent reminder of our gratitude to Victoria. Moreover, the Gardens and the Gazebo have greatly enhanced and beautified this part of the island, and our street, which is, fittingly, called Queen Elizabeth Avenue. It was so named for Elizabeth II's Coronation.

You see, the new gardens are right opposite our driveway, and we have this beautiful outlook whenever we drive out of our driveway.

We ourselves have our own reminder of Queen Victoria's affection in our house. In the early 1850's, George Hunn Nobbs, who was the leader and pastor of the Pitcairn people, went to England to be ordained. He had an audience with the Queen, and she gave him this picture of her young family. It has come down through the family to us. I will have to tell you more about it in another posting.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


This morning I bumped into Bernie's cousin Elaine, who, like me,was doing the rounds of the Garage Sales. Elaine's Mum Penelope had asked her to look out for some wool for her knitting. I should add that Penelope, in spite of passing her four score years, likes to keep her legs active and her hands busy. She mainly knits beanies and gloves, like the ones that Noelene received for her birthday recently.

In my younger days, when gloves were more of a fashion item, I liked to have a pair to match every outfit!
I have a fairly early memory of farewelling a relative who was leaving on her overseas trip by ship. Part of her travelling wardrobe was a very special pair of pigskin gloves - how I envied her! Pigskin gloves sounded so glamorous and classy!

Many of us recall wearing these lacy crocheted gloves to special occasions like weddings, parties and Sunday School anniversaries. I purchased this pair from someone about five years ago - I was in the right place at the right time, and they made me feel very nostalgic.

Gloves are associated with a somewhat embarrassing memory of a time when I was in my teens. I was attending a Baptist Youth Evening in a theatre/auditorium in the city. I went alone - but was probably hoping to catch the eye of some nice Christian young man!

For some reason, I decided that my outfit needed a pair of green gloves. Buying a pair was out of the question, so I got some white ones and dyed them green - with food colouring!!!

During the evening, I got chatting to the people beside me, but I cannot recall if they were male! It got warm in the auditorium, and my hands were sweating, so I took my gloves off. My hands were bright green!

When my sister got married, the bridesmaids wore elbow length gloves. The dress at weddings was so modest in those days.

Now I am not a great wearer of gloves nowadays. My sense of touch has become very important to me, and things like gardening gloves and washing up gloves would never stay on my hands for very long. Even thimbles I find restrictive.

But I was delighted to find a plastic bag hanging on my door yesterday. In it was a parcel from Holly, who lives in Western Australia. She had sent it to me via her son Steve, who lives here on Norfolk Island.

Now I should tell you that I have admired Holly long before I ever met her. Edie, who is Steve's mother-in-law, used to tell me about this wonderful person who did all these amazing things with her arts and crafts, including dyeing fabric in the microwave. I longed to meet this lady, who obviously regarded her Craft as a bit of an adventure, rather than something to be measured exactly and followed to the last detail of the pattern!

Here is a picture of Holly teaching us to have fun on one of her visits to Norfolk. Holly is quite "over the top" - and this extends to her generosity in sharing her time and skills

By the time I did meet Holly in person, I had discovered for myself how to use the microwave for dyeing, but I knew for sure that you cannot dye successfully with food colouring! However, I have had wonderful results with Kool Aid, an American concentrated drink powder.

But there are so many other things Holly has taught me and inspired me with! And there are hundreds, probably thousands of people in West Australia who will thank Holly for bringing the joy of creating to them, particularly people in more remote areas. Most of all, Holly has taught us to be creative with what we have to hand, to forget "rules", and above all to have fun!

Anyway, this is one of the things in Holly's parcel - a magnificent pair of gloves "just for fun". Holly obviously had fun making them, and I am going to hang them somewhere where lots of people will enjoy them.

A card attached to the gloves reads:
Oh what can I do, what can I do?

I want something exciting, something new-

Something really quite over the top-

Something no one else has got!

So here's your special gardening gloves-

Made for you with lots of love!

I am glad she doesn't expect me to wear them! Or does she?

A postscript to this posting - I saw Elaine today and asked if she had been to the other garage sale (the one I had just come from). She said she had, and had found a box of lovely old gloves. She had bought them because "you never know when someone may find them useful". Elaine is a person after my own heart - she recognises treasures that we will soon have been tossed and lost, and has appointed herself as an archivist/conservator/librarian of all sorts of lovely old things, particularly clothing and textiles. A person after my own heart!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I do not seem to have written about my creative activities just lately. It is true that life gets pretty busy and committed here sometimes, and it seems that "the faster I go the behinder I get."
However, a couple of weeks ago, my inner woman said that I just had to get to my machine and just churn some stuff out. It is true, I felt better after a few sessions at my faithful old Pfaff.
I had managed to use a percentage of my stash (only a very small percentage, I must confess), I had produced plenty of items for fetes and stalls and gifts, and best of all, I had a renewed sense of achievement.
These bags were mostly inspired by some remnant pices I found at the Op Shop. There were several unusual-shaped pieces in black and white spots. I thought they would team really well with some bright prints, and that is how these cheerful bags came into being. I also made some Christmas stockings in these fabrics, but they still need a bit of hand stitching and embellishment before I display them here!
Little bags

More little bags

And some bigger bags

While I was on the bag theme, a good size piece of upholstery fabric I found in the attic was utilised for some more utilitarian bags.

While the mood was "bright", I mass-produced some big and useful potholders. The wonderful red wool was part of one of a pair of lovely red blankets I scavenged from the Waste Management Centre!

A couple of cheerful fruit prints asked me to use them in some wine bottle carrier bags.

Kitchen handtowels with tops that loop over a rail, are quick to produce and cheerful, too.

Now I have given myself permisson to tackle some of the more fiddly embellished stuff which has become my trademark!

Friday, May 08, 2009

FAMILY ARCHIVES - My Parent's Wedding

When my mother died just on 13 years ago, I brought a few family photos back home with me, while my sister kept others. At Christmas time, my sister brought a CD of old family photos, kindly copied by her granddaughter Alyssa. Now Christmas was a busy time, and the CD became buried beneath one of my many piles of "things to be sorted and put away". The other day, I finally unearthed it, and loaded it onto my computer.

How thrilled I was to see once againall these photos of family who had gone before me!!!

There were a couple of photos of my parents' wedding in 1937. I love the Arum lilies my mother carried - she refused to be put off by people who said they were for funerals. She loved them and so do I! And my father's double breasted suit is most definitely designed to keep the chest warm!

My parents both lived on the Isle of Sheppey, which is in the Thames and Medway Estuaries in Kent. It is a marshy island, and large enough for about half a dozen towns and villages. They started "courting" when my mother was almost 21, and my father had just turned 16! Long before then, I am told, my father had a crush on this slim brunette beauty, and had to be content to admire her from afar. I can just imagine how he must have been looking on with longing the year my mother was crowned "Queen of the May."They were finally able to marry soon after my father turned 21.

Two of my mother's sisters were her attendants - Rose and Nell (Ellen). The other two are her niece Eileen and a cousin. My father's best man was his brother Ron.

Behind my mother is her father James Castle. I am not sure where her mother is, probably helping to get the food ready!

My father's parents (shown below)were not at the wedding. At the time they were living in Hong Kong, where my grandfather worked for the Hong Kong Dockyard.

Nana and Grandad Winch

I still have two newspaper accounts of the wedding.

I will quote from them:

"In the presence of a large congregation at the Bethel Church, Queenborough on Saturday, the marriage took place between Mr David Winch...and Miss Doris Castle.

The bride was becomingly attired in a white satin dress with train; headdress of pleated tulle, and lilies of the valley; and white satin shoes, her bouquet consisting of lilies.

(Two of the bridesmaids) wore pretty dresses of mauve silk;headdresses of gold entwined with violets, and silver shoes. (The other two) were attired in lemon-coloured silk dresses; gold headdresses with primroses intermingled, and gold shoes. They all carried bouquets of irises...they made a very pretty sight.

The mother of the bride was dressed in navy blue silk, with hat to tone.

The reception was held in the Bethel schoolroom, about 80 guests being present.

Over 100 gifts were received by the Bride and Groom, who were given an enthusiastic send-off. They left for their future home in Welling, in which town the bridegroom has been employed since leaving Sheppey. The bride travelled in an oatmeal coloured coat and hat to match."

Oh how I would love just the tiniest snippet of those violet and lemon silks!

Meanwhile, here is a picture of my parents dancing together at my sister's wedding, about 21 years later - still very much in love!

And Dad does not looked quite so "trussed up" in this suit, does he?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

THE FERAL PUMPKIN VINE It started in the pig run - or perhaps from a seed left behind by a former vine. And because the pigrun now has a "VACANCY' sign on it, the vine has become a squatter, and has used the run as a base to spread out - all over the garden.

It has climbed through the Bush Lemon tree, the Macadamia, and from there to the shadehouse, where little pumpkins are now forming.

That is Basil the cat in his "hammock" - his favourite daytime place!

It has taken great delight in the support of the Passionfruit trellis, and has borne fruit there. I wonder how long the wire will hold its is now the size of a football.

The same pumpkin as above taken a few days later. It has since doubled its size again.It can no longer point into the air - will it hang on till it is mature?

It has twisted itself through the grapevine and the roses, and has ventured up the Mandarin and the Yellow Guava.

Now it is on its way through the peach trees and was last seen heading towards John's Joinery.

The pumpkins are delicious.

We have given several away. Mother Nature is a wonderful provider if we create the right conditions for her to do her own thing!

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